Feedback in Teacher Education: Mentor Discourse and Intern Perceptions

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Published: 
Nov. 01, 2011

Source: Teacher Development, Vol. 15, No. 4, November 2011, 453–470
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This study examined the strategies that mentors adopted in giving actual feedback and the interns' perceptions of this feedback.

The authors addressed to the following research questions:
(1) How did the mentors promote the interns’ involvement in the interaction?
(2) How did mentors deliver compliments, criticism, and suggestions to the interns?
(3) What were the interns’ perceptions of the feedback they received?

Participants and Method
This study was conducted at the English Language Institute (ELI) of a public university in the Southeast USA.

Eleven participants in this study were five TESOL mentors, one Internship course instructor, and five MA student teaching interns.

The interns were two males and three females with ages ranging from late 20s to early 50s. Three of them were native English speakers with some prior teaching experience in primary schools of subjects unrelated to TESOL and the other two were non-native English speakers with no teaching experience.

All these mentors had taught at ELI for at least two years and had prior mentoring experience. As mentors, they observed the interns’ teaching and gave post-observation feedback for the interns’ lessons.

Data were collected through six post-observation meetings that involved six mentors and five MA student interns and 12 semi-structured interviews with the relevant participants.
 

Discussion

The strategies, which were examined, referred to various ways that the mentors consciously used in their feedback to make the interns feel positive about themselves and their teaching.

The mentors’ strategies included a number of strategies considered to be effective in giving intern-friendly or constructive feedback in teacher education contexts, such as the use of questions, the delivery of compliments before criticisms or specific suggestions, the production of mild advice and suggestions and the assistance for the interns to pinpoint their own problems, in addition to the provision of a comfortable atmosphere for the feedback conferences and a balance of both positive and negative comments in feedback delivery.

The mentors seemed to try various ways to make their feedback acceptable to the interns so that they could benefit more from this feedback.
The mentors also created a supportive atmosphere in the feedback conferences with a remarkable amount of language used to show their sympathy and care to the intern when the lessons went against the interns’ expectations.

The findings reveal that the teaching interns’ comments seemed to indicate that they felt pleased with the feedback they received because of the positive nature of the comments, the encouragement expressed, as well as the specific suggestions offered for their teaching performance.

 
Conclusion

The authors conclude that the findings in this study could inform the mentors about effective practice in giving feedback that can be well received by the interns, whose positive perceptions of the feedback could serve as an important step in enabling them to act on it to better their teaching.
The study also highlights the importance of the mentors’ communication skills in teacher training and these skills require the mentors to have constant awareness of and practice in strategies to use their language effectively.

The authors recommend that mentors pay special attention to affective factors when giving feedback to the interns to create the rapport with the latter and a favorable atmosphere for their learning.

Updated: Dec. 22, 2013
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